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As racist laws stifle Black history and humanity, Juneteenth rings bittersweet | Weathersbee

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

I think I was 28 when I first learned about Juneteenth.

As a child, I knew all about the Emancipation Proclamation. I even sat through a New Years’ Eve Watch Night once — a tradition in which Black churches honor our enslaved ancestors’ wait for President Lincoln to proclaim them free on Jan. 1, 1863.

But once I learned about Juneteenth – I think I first heard about it at an African American cultural festival in the late 1980s – I was perplexed. Why would Black people celebrate receiving news of their freedom in Texas in 1865 – more than a year after slavery had supposedly ended?

To me, that was akin to celebrating the deceit more than the triumph.

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